What do we actually expect from a Champagne? That he will amuse or even seduce our palate? Crispy acidity or rather softness? Flattering fullness or sweet or fruity or mineral aromas? Or a bit from everything?
That might be the right answer, but it’s anything but easy to unite all these desires in each bottle of bubbles. Champagne is in fact no universal drink that meets all our needs whenever our brain starts to sparkle. The more character a champagne has, the more it will defer from our universal idea and take a stand. It is therefore appropriate to determine the right moment for tasting of each bottle of Champagne, just as we use to do for still wines...
I recently opened this bottle of Champagne Paul Lebrun Grande Reserve that has been lying in my cellar for a few months. It is a pure Blanc de Blancs, produced primarily from the 2009 vintage and from different vineyards of the Côte des Blancs and the Sézannais. While it is true that these wines do 95% of their aging in the cellars of Lebrun and completely are « ready to drink » when they leave them, these few months of extra rest after disgorging apparently were quite beneficial to the wine.
Fine bubbles, plentiful and persistent, are giving much visual lightness to the deeply golden wine in the glass. The first nose, with its lush flavors of vanilla, hazelnut and fresh yeast, quickly opens in my WINE GLASS (down with champagne flutes, usually much too narrow to favor free aromatic expression of the wine!), displaying seductive aromas of white pepper and dried flowers. Creamy and smooth on the palate, with fresh acidity and slight saltiness, tangy lemon and delicately peppery on the long final. The empty glass shows freshly cut herbs and grass.
So, what should you do with this wine, and which is the right moment to enjoy it? Personally, I would drink it as an aperitif. Certainly, you may say that’s hardly a scoop regarding Champagne, but let me explain: The aromatics of this Champagne show a certain evolution and advanced maturity, remaining very interesting and showing a relatively great diversity. But its especially the smoothness and the full-bodied palate that require that this wine stands alone. What’s more, an accompanying dish could drown out the delicate flavors on the final.